English Place-name Society

Survey of English Place-Names

A county-by-county guide to the linguistic origins of England’s place-names – a project of the English Place-Name Society, founded 1923.

Cleeve Axe

Early-attested site in the Parish of Icklesham

Historical Forms

  • Cliuex 1202,1207,1235 FF 1320 Misc
  • Ferthex c.1270 Pens


Cleeve Axe (local) probably represents Cliuex 1202, 1207, 1235 FF, 1320 Misc. This contains as second element a word of curiously local distribution, as so far observed. In the Subsidy Rolls for the hundreds of Goldspur, Baldslow and Gostrow we have personal names formed with de as follows: Spelt (h )ex (1296, 1327), Glepenex , Clepenex (1296, 1327), Edelnex (1296), Brodenexe (1332), Brokhex (1296), Brenyhex , Briuiex (1296, 1327). The third and fourth of these are mentioned as place-names Edelnex and Brodnex in Court Rolls of 1405 and 1489. In addition to these we have Ferthex c. 1270 Pens 118, belonging also to this part of the county. The first element in Spelt (h )ex may be spelt , 'corn,' that in Brodenexe and Brok (h )ex is the adj. brad and either brocc , 'badger' or broc , 'meadow land,' that in Ferthex is fyrhþe , 'wooded land.' The others are uncertain except that Glepenex probably contains the pers. name Glæppa . The element -ex Professor Ekwall suggests should be associated with German esch , 'cornfield,' from OHG  ezzisch , the cognate of Gothic atisk , 'cornfield.' For the use of this term in p.n.s, v. Jellinghaus, Die Westfälischen ON 63. An immediate English cognate of this would not yield forms in x but Professor Ekwall suggests that there may have been a derivative Germanic atiskon -, surviving possibly in Germ esche , fem. This would give OE  etsce , oblique cases etscan , later esce , escan . The latter form would have kept sc as sk , which with metathesis often gives ME x (cf. Weeks's Common supra 37). The exact sense of the word in OE it is impossible to determine without more knowledge of the sites of the places in which it occurs. So far Cleeve Axe is the only one that has been found. It may denote corn land, perhaps only pasture land. The first element in Cleeve Axe is clearly clif , from its situation. v. Addenda supra vi.